Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Your Voice Heard: An Interview with CEO of Nevahold

The last time you had a product or service issue, did you tweet the company about the issue, get no response, and wish you had someone to help you get the company's attention?

Back in June, I wrote a blog post about my experience booking a flight for my kids and me through Expedia and the subsequent conversations with American Airlines about my seat assignments. After that post, Kena Amoah, one of the co-founders of Nevahold, reached out to me and asked me if he and his team could share my story through a comic based on my experience. I agreed. And the rest, as they say, is history. 

What follows here is an interview with Kena, where he shares details around the reason he and his partners started Nevahold and how you can enlist Nevahold to get your voice heard.

Kena, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?
I am a serial entrepreneur and a consumer advocate. I strongly believe in good customer service, where consumers are treated fairly and get what they paid for.

Why did you start Nevahold? How did you come up with the idea for this concept?
My two co-founders, Lovell and David, and I started Nevahold to help solve a problem many consumers encountered frequently when seeking support from companies.  We came up with the idea when I was trying to assist my mom with getting help from a wireless service with which she has been a customer for decades.

How does it work?
Nevahold is simple, intuitive, and fun to use. A user can request support on the Nevahold website or on Twitter. On the Nevahold website, users can send their questions, complaints, or praise to brands with no character limits using the Shout-Box and adding the company Twitter username (@).  Nevahold then makes sure the user receives a quick response from the company.

On Twitter, adding the Nevahold hashtag (#nevahold ) to a tweet to the company allows users to use the Nevahold service to request support. We are working on the mobile version and the Facebook plugin, so consumers can enjoy the service anytime, anywhere.

Which social media channels are you tracking?
Nevahold is tracking Facebook and Twitter, with support for Google Plus in the next release. 

What has the reception been so far?
Nevahold released the first public beta during the Webit Startup Challenge on October 11, 2012, and received huge response from our early adopters. We have also seen 89.7% response rate from businesses on all Shouts through the platform.

Are you targeting any one industry? If not, which industries are you focusing on right now?
Nevahold is currently focused on the airline, consumer electronics, and wireless industries in the US and UK markets, but consumers are not limited to this; questions, complaints, or praise can still be sent to any other company (in any industry), and Nevahold will get their voices heard.

How do you get responses from companies when consumers can’t? In other words, why would companies’ listen/respond to you and not to consumers?
[Laughs] That’s one of Nevahold’s secret sauces. First of all, Nevahold is here for consumers, so we are the consumers. As to how we do it, the platform leverages the power of social media by allowing consumers to get support from the Nevahold community of consumer advocates to push their questions, complaints, or praise to the companies. Currently, we have about 200 advocates on Facebook and Twitter. So you pose a question, complaint, or praise, which we call Shout on Nevahold, or use our Twitter hashtag (#nevahold), and the service begins to monitor your Shout. After 5 minutes (during business hours) without a response from the company, your question is retweeted by Nevahold’s advocates. The Total number of advocates that retweet your shout increases until the company responds to you. This increases the Shouts’ social influence to help get a quicker response. 

What is an advocate? Can anyone become one?
Advocates are people who opt in to help remedy poor customer service and to bring good customer service to light. Anyone with 50 or more followers can be an advocate. We still have 50 more Nevahold advocate t-shirts to give out this month, for the next 50 people to sign up as an advocate.

We met because you wanted to turn my experience into a comic. Why comics?
We use stories people share with the Nevahold community to create interesting comics. You have most likely had at least one memorable customer service experience:  that very moment when you either wanted to yell in anger or shout for joy over the type of service you received. We encourage consumers to share these stories with us, which we then turn into a nice comic for the world to read. Sharing stories through comics is another way for us to bring various customer service experiences, good or bad, to light in a relatable way.
Do you only follow up on issues and complaints? Do you pass along praise, too?
We don't just handle bad service. On Nevahold, companies can be praised, too. If a consumer praises a company using the Nevahold service, Nevahold advocates retweet it so the world gets to know about it. This is supposed to be a win-win for both sides, so we encourage consumers to praise companies when they do an awesome job.

Who is your competition? Do companies like Gripevine achieve the same goals?
Gripevine and Gripe are competitors. Although they have similar goals of helping consumers resolve their gripes with companies, Nevahold is focused on getting consumers answers to questions and complaints that they need responses within the next few minutes, while gripes may take days to be resolved. But you can still gripe on Nevahold. We are also focused on praising companies with great customer service; we believe that motivation plays a good role in positive achievements.

Are companies like yours a growing trend? Is this the only way customers can get heard?
Yes. There’s definitely a growing trend toward consumers requesting support on Nevahold and similar platforms as a new approach to getting support over traditional support channels.

Why do you think companies don't listen to consumers on social but respond when Nevahold pushes them?
Companies mostly want to resolve consumer issues out of the public domain and, therefore, do not listen or try to shift the conversation from a public channel to a private one. Nevahold helps companies achieve this by providing first a private channel to start a conversation with a consumer but then leverages Nevahold advocates and the consumer’s social power in public channels when they are not getting responses.

Do you think social media helps or inhibits customer service?
Social media helps customer service, as it's a transparent, easy, and quick way to reach out to a company. Social media can serve as a great tool for positive word-of-mouth for companies when managed well and vice versa, when mismanaged.

If readers want more information about Nevahold, where they can they go?
Please ask them to take a look at this video, which gives a brief overview of our service. Otherwise, they can visit the Nevahold website to start using our services.

Thanks, Kena, for your time. I really appreciate what you and your team are doing at Nevahold. Anyone whose mission it is to help consumers get issues resolved and also praises companies for  jobs well done is doing great things in my book!

So there you have it. The next time you tweet a complaint, question, or praise to a company, be sure to include #nevahold in your tweet so that you can experience the benefits of Nevahold.

Images courtesy of Nevahold.


  1. Thank you very much for the interview Annette, we are baking something tasty for consumers. We feel it is time consumers decide when,how and where they want companies to reach them. We love to hear your feedback, just shout @nevahold on www.nevahold.com and we will be there :)

    1. You're welcome, Kena! It was my pleasure to share the story of Nevahold with my readers.

      Annette :-)

  2. Hi Annette, I just got notified about Nevahold after tweeting about a positive experience with my wireless provider. I have to say that I would never feel comfortable using the service. I think it's just morally wrong to gang up on a company with intent, and shame them in public this way...that's the essence of what they're doing. It's like bullying on steroids. If a brand doesn't respond to my tweet about a negative experience I'm having, and the issue was important enough, I'd pick up the phone can call the CEO's office. If that didn't go anywhere, I might write a blog post about it, and put the word out. But I would just feel uncomfortable crowdsourcing my followers to "attack" the company the way Nevahold does it. I just believe in a more organic approach, I guess. Just wanted to share my two cents.
    - Mark

    1. Thanks, Mark, for reading and for commenting. I appreciate your point of view. I see both sides of the coin and understand your concerns.

      Until companies understand that social media is nothing more than another channel with which to communicate, companies like Nevahold will continue to help consumers get their issues resolved. I think Nevahold's goal, ultimately, is to help the consumer, not to attack the business.

      I'll see if Nevahold would like to weigh in on this discussion. I think it's an important perspective to consider.

      Thanks, again, Mark!

      Annette :-)

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  3. @Mark, thanks for your comment, Nevahold don't only gang at them when they do not respond but we also praise them when they provide you with a better service. This praise goes a long way to tell other consumers how efficient they are in terms of supporting you when you need it. You writing a blog post for public consumption i think is equal to getting your friends to support you, without having to waste time calling the CEO. We can surely discuss more on this and get to understand how different you would have solved it. This will be of great insight for us. @isnevahold

  4. Social media helps customer service, as it's a transparent, easy, and quick way to reach out to a company.
    Glyn Willmoth